G.A. Minutes 6-30-15
The weather is in the “could be better but it sure could be a lot worse” category tonight. It’s mostly cloudy with little wind and temperatures in the low 60s. That will mean a fire won’t be mandatory but it’ll still be nice to have one.
Clayton Jackson McGhie is completely empty when we arrive. The streets are fairly empty also.
We’re thinking we may have one of those rare quiet evenings where we’re pretty much by ourselves and we can have serious political discussion.
However……. Not tonight. As soon as we have all the stuff set up, here comes this year’s regular CJM crew. We all exchange greetings in the accepted manner of the street. We hug or clasp hands; laughing and saying how happy we are to see each other.
One thing is a little different though. The feeling is actually genuine; we are pleased to see them and their vibe says the same.
A few friends from Socialist Action stop to say hello. More people arrive; an Occupier puts out every chair we have.
We were lucky enough over the weekend to be able to acquire a new load of firewood. It looks like it will burn well and last us for several months. We’ll start up the fire and see what happens.
As the flames rise up, we see that all the chairs are full. They are occupied by this year’s regular crew and also by some who have visited us off and on for many years.
The Spiritual Man is here, the pretty alcoholic woman who likes to act silly, a long-term homeless husband and wife couple, the very tall Native artist, his girlfriend and the neighborhood young woman who sometimes shows up at our various demonstrations.
There’s one man who we don’t know, a rather handsome middle aged Native man. He appears to be somewhat knowledgeable and wants to talk about history starting with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the western hemisphere. He and an Occupier start a conversation that may prove to be interesting.
The homeless couple isn’t having any of it. They tell him to shut up; he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It quickly becomes evident all three of them are from the same tribal reservation and have familial history running back a long time.
The wife chastises the middle aged man for using swear words in the fire circle. The man apologizes and tries to watch his language. Then the truth comes out. The husband says, “We’re sick of you and your friends hanging out in the park with your heroin, your meth and your synthetic”.
The wife says, “We’ve been just fine living in that park for years. We just drink and smoke a little weed. You guys take your crap, act stupid and bring the cops.” The man doesn’t have anything to say. He gets up and walks off. The homeless couple is now in a bad mood and they begin to take it out on each other.
An Occupier points to the biggest tree behind the back ledge and comments, “I don’t recall it was blooming last week. It’s very pretty. What kind of tree is it?”
Another Occupier answers, “Basswood, I think”. The wife smacks her husband on the arm and says, “It would be a lot prettier if you men wouldn’t pee on it!”
The husband stomps off in a huff. The wife looks very sad; she leaves with a friend.
An Occupier sighs, “That’s too bad. I wish we could have said something to help them.
Another Occupier replies, “Oh, that’s just the type of relationship they have. They’ve been together for years and they always act like that”. The rest of the folks at the fire nod in agreement.
An Occupier appears carrying big bags of hotdogs and fixings. He receives everyone’s immediate attention.
An additional Occupier brings a big backpack containing free books she found at today’s book giveaway at the public library.
Some folks begin cooking hotdogs and some look through the books.
The street peeps are not as ravenous as they sometimes are but everything gets eaten just the same. Somebody reaches for the tobacco pouch on the table and finds the tobacco is missing. Everyone is shocked. An Occupier states, “In all the years we have been having these fires, nothing like this has ever happened”.
Hmmmm……. The last person to use the pouch was the middle aged man. Oh well, not much we can or want to do about it now.
The older retired man from the neighborhood pays us a visit. He hasn’t visited for a month or more so wants to know the latest political gossip. He and an Occupier begin a conversation about the TPP.
Then……. This is where things get crazy. The president of the CJM Board of Directors pulls up in a fancy car, rolls down his window and glares at the folks in the circle.
An Occupier goes over to talk with Mr. President. The neighborhood retired man looks confused so an Occupier explains about the ongoing debate between the economically privileged people and their wannabees and the regular diverse coalition of everybody else.
The privileged people want the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial to be a place of death and complete silence. Anyone who enters there will be disgracing the space and the men to whom it is dedicated simply by their presence. Unless, of course, those who enter there are wealthy, escorted by a member of the BOD and capable of making a sizeable donation to the CJM Scholarship Fund.
The coalition people think the privileged people should look around and notice where the Memorial is located. It’s right plunk in the middle of a neighborhood populated with homeless people who have no other place where they can just sit and rest.
The men who were lynched and now have a Memorial weren’t privileged people. They may have been homeless. CJM has a lot of meaning to the people on the street, especially the African American people. But “those people” aren’t supposed to be there?
This issue has been debated for years. The Occupiers have become quite bored with it but apparently the privileged ones have not.
Anyway, the president leaves and the Occupier talking with him reports, “Oh he’s mad because we’re feeding folks and letting them smoke cigarettes”.
The street man who recently lost his baby’s momma to a heroin overdose is with us tonight. He has recently acquired a new running partner. She is young, pretty, pleasant acting and has almost no experience with street life.
She, the man and his friends having been doing a little drinking down the street. Everyone is fine but the young woman is so drunk that she has passed out. The man gets a chair from us, sits her under the tree by the back ledge and asks everyone to take care of her while he goes to get his phone.
She is well cared for, several street folks surround her and catch her every time she’s starts falling over.
Then a cop drives up. An Occupier walks over to greet him. Another goes over to the back ledge. The people are asking the girl to stand up but it’s not working.
The Occupier gets close to the drunk girl’s ear and says, “Honey, you need to stand up and act right now. The police are here and if they notice you, they will take you to Detox”.
The girl tries to stand; the man looking for his phone returns. He wraps his arms around the girl; she does the same to him. It looks romantic but is really a desperate attempt to remain hidden from eyes of the DPD.
After pleasantly chatting with the Occupier for a while, the cop leaves. Crisis averted.
The Occupier tells us, “The officer said he received a call from the wife of the Mr. BOD President so he had no choice but to come and check us out. The cop also said that he really likes it when we are here because everyone is so well behaved. That means he and the other cops don’t have to spend time down here”.
It’s 9pm but we know we can’t leave yet. An Occupier says to another Occupier, “The man who lost his baby’s momma says that his sister gets home from work at 9:30 pm. He can then take the girl to his sister’s house up the street and she’ll be safe. I think we’d better wait until then and if they can’t get her walking, I can drive them up to the sister’s house”.
The retired man has had quite an adventure this evening. When he says his goodbyes, he leaves a generous monetary donation. It will help with the purchase of food for the meeting table.
Bird Man is with the crowd again tonight. He stands at the edge of the Memorial wall and says, “Hey, look what’s here”. The bag of tobacco is tucked in between the bricks. We can’t say for sure but we think the middle aged man must have accidently taken it when he left. Not wanting to return and chance the wrath of the homeless couple again, he just tucked it in the wall. Sounds reasonable anyway.
We slowly pack things up. By 9:30 the peeps have the girl walking (sort of) so they hustle her off to sanctuary.
We will return on Saturday. It will be the 4th of July. That may be interesting.